Resident Evil 5 outsold No Line on the Horizon (U2’s new
crapfest album). Not only did it outsell it over the release weekend, but in two days it sold more than U2’s effort since release. Now, since an album costs less than a tenner, and Resi is the best part of £40 I can see how the figures pan out, but I still can’t figure why it’s selling so well.
Resi has a fine pedigree. For me it was the first scary game I played. Silent Hill came along and knocked the atmospheric survival horror ball out of the park, but Resi was there first. Hammy storyline, awful-yet-inspired dialogue, cack-handed controls and zombie dogs enamoured any who played it. The first sequel was more of the same but sans mansion. Then we had more of the same but with a big persistent bad guy. Then there were some remakes, some light gun games, a prequel and some terrible movies.
The Resident Evil franchise was gradually eating itself. Subsequent games added little in terms of gameplay whilst maintaining the hammy story and sparseness of ammo. Then Capcom blew us all away with Resident Evil 4. Abandoned villages, chainsaws wielding unkillable maniacs, over-the-shoulder viewpoints and a strange man who followed you around just in case you fancied buying some guns. Just about every man and his zombie dog loved it.
Now we have Resident Evil 5. It’s basically Resi 4 in Africa but without the atmosphere and with more of a focus on multiplayer. When you die in Resi 5 you go to a screen here you can buy equipment, you also manage the equipment of your AI partner who both supports and confounds your efforts. Many times Sheva has sprayed green healy herb into my face, whereas she has also managed to get torn apart by a girl with a tentacle for a head and become lacerated by a mounted machine gun.
I guess Resi 5 doesn’t feel like a Resi game to me. Admittedly I’ve not finished it but I had no urge to after being killed by the same crocodile six or seven times. The game is not tense like it’s brethren, it’s more run and gun. Unfortunately the game feels so static. The position of the camera and your inability to move whilst aiming might have added to the dramatic tension if there was any, but it’s sadly missing. Resi 4 somehow maintained a feel of hopelessness, of being in a hostile lien land. Resi 5 fells more like you’re on holiday ad I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because any attempt to get into the feel of the game is destroyed by the little concessions made to the co-op.
I just didn’t like Resi 5. There are better action games and better horror games. If this game didn’t bear the Resident Evil name would it have sold? I don’t think so. There have been big advances in video games since the seminal Resi 4, but Capcom seems to have ignored them. We were hoping for the same kind of revolution 4 provided, instead this feels more like a mission pack rather than a valid new addition to the core games.